Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pink Or Blue: Round 2

Last year I wrote this post on selecting the sex of the child you wish to adopt.    And more recently, I've been writing posts on ethics in adoption, including this recent post on what adoption agencies need to start and stop doing, which included a paragraph on selecting the sex of baby adoptive parents desire.  This post, which I shared in various adoption-focused FB groups, elicited a slew of responses, particularly on the issue of sex-selection.    

Since Baby Z was born in January, we've heard, many, many times, "Oh!  You finally got your boy!"   And, "Isn't it so awesome having a son?"   And asked, "Isn't having a boy just so different?"

And my response is that we would have been happy no matter the sex of our third child.  In fact, his bio mom thought he was going to be a girl, until her second "find out" ultrasound revealed otherwise.   We had already been brainstorming girl names.    

Having a son, right now, has been no different than having daughters.  (Well, I guess there are far fewer cute clothing options...).  A baby is a baby who has the same basic needs.

Of course, we think Baby Z is pretty awesome.   But that's not because he's a boy.   It's because he is ours. 

Here's why, with rare exceptions (mentioned in the the above linked post), why we won't specify the sex of the child we will adopt (domestic infant adoption):

---We don't believe in telling God or a birth parent or an agency who we can and cannot be blessed  with. 

---I'm not ordering up a sandwich at Subway.  I'm trying to adopt a child.  It's about becoming or growing in motherhood. 

---I'm not going to exclude myself from a possible adoption because of the child's sex.  I'm not going to lose the opportunity to support an expectant mother, whether she parents or places, based on the sex of her baby.   

---I'm not going to set up my future child to "be" or "fulfill" MY desires.    I don't feel that there's anything wrong with having an inkling of preference, but having a preference and then checking a box for that preference, thereby excluding other babies from being ours, doesn't sit well with me.

---Boys and girls are equally valuable and worthy of a forever family.  They can bring equal joy into a family. 

---Jesus told His disciples to let the little children come to Him.  Not the boys first and the girls second (or vice versa).    No, I don't think Jesus was speaking about adoption in this Bible passage, but I do think the verse shows that children are all precious in God's sight.

---How could I possibly say "no" to a child based on his/her sex when God might have great purpose for that child in our family?

---Adoption generally offers adoptive families too many choices, making adoption more parent-driven instead of child-driven.   It gets ethically murky to start rejecting children based on their sex.  Slippery slope, friends. 

---What if a family did have a preference, and the mom thinks she's having a boy, for example, and ends up having a girl?  What do families do?  Dump the mom and baby for the baby they REALLY want? (It happens, readers.  Can you imagine the devastation that would bring upon the mother?)   Gasp, you think. No way would I do that?  How are you NOT doing that from the get-go by pre-selecting your child's sex?   Adoption is about commitment, ethics, and least it should be.

---It's not fair to have projecting expectations onto a child:  which is hurtful to the child.   Like, "I want a son so we can a part of Boy Scouts together like I did with my dad."   Or, "I want a girl whom I can buy tutus for."   It's not ok to have expectations of a child based on YOUR selfish desires.  Doing so is quite dangerous for the child's well being.   It shouldn't be done to a boy or a girl, a biological or adopted child, a child of a certain race, etc.   Parents who have expectations of children based on a certain characteristic are setting children up to fail and setting themselves up for disappointment.   (A whole different rant on gender nonsense might come at another that boy or a girl should like certain toys---and not play with others---and should be in certain activities, but not others...blah blah blah).

Parents, if you truly believe that you are MEANT to parent a specific child (as I once heard an adoptive mom who was adamant that God had a bi-racial girl for her), than you have nothing to lose by being open to all races and both sexes.  What's meant to be will be.

It's about faith.

It's about ethics.

It's about doing what is RIGHT even when it's not easy.

It's about not giving in to the "I'm paying the big bucks, so the agency needs to pony up and fulfill my heart's desires" and instead, seeing adoption for what it is:  human hearts, on the line.   

You know the ol' pro-life slogan?  I think it applies to adoption too:  It's a child, not a choice.


  1. We feel the same way for our family. We are adopting a second time and have never specified boy or girl. We felt like we should leave that choice in God's hands like it would be if we had been pregnant. We are adopting internationally and it is common for adoptive parents to choose gender, but it just didn't feel right for us. Enjoyed your post.

  2. Rachel I think this may be one of the few adoption issues on which we disagree. I totally hear what you are saying in terms of infant adoption. But for those of us adopting older kids, or kids from foster care, I think it makes sense to look at the needs of our other kids. It isn't about being selfish or getting what we want - it's about creating balance in the family to benefit our children. When we adopted child #4, we had two blond girls who looked just like us and who played perfectly together, and an older boy who is black who longed for a brother. I have no regrets that we stipulated we wanted to adopt another black boy so that he would feel less alone in the family by both race and gender. Our transracial kids are othered and isolated in so many ways - if we can gender match to give them just one more person in the family that mirrors them, I don't think it's a bad thing. Curious - do you see this as different from stipulating the race of a child? Would you find it unethical if a family who already had a black child said that they would prefer their next adopted child also be black? To me it's the same principal.

  3. So when it comes to infant adoption, no one seems to disagree--and that's what you were talking about--not older adoption, not foster to adoption. Straight up looking to parent an infant from birth. But just like everything when it comes to adoption everyone has an opinion. I almost feel guilty for being matched with a birth mother who is having a girl because I already have a boy. Everyone will perceive that we "designed" the perfect family. Meanwhile, I'm terrified that I won't be the best mom to both of them.

  4. Totally disagree. I believe in God, but I don't believe in the "the child who is meant to be yours will be yours" line of thinking. There are also many adoptive parents who don't believe in God. So, to project that line of thinking on them is ... what's the word for religious racism? If you don't believe in God, then you don't believe that God is choosing your family for you. That's a slippery slope too. I know a great many birth mothers who dislike the "God chose this child for this family" argument.

    I have no expectations for parenting a girl vs. parenting a boy, other than that they will be different. I wanted both experiences. My son wears tutus. So does my daughter. My son plays with Transformers. So does my daughter. My daughter wants to do everything her big brother does, so I imagine there will be a lot of "tomboy" in my future, but she also loves sparkly shoes. She's definitely her own person. And my son's favorite color is pink, but he loves watching sports with his dad. We don't see "boy things" and "girl things" or "boy colors" and "girl colors." All of it is "people things" and "people colors."

    For me, the first time, I just wanted to be a mother, so we didn't specify sex. The second time, because I already had a boy, I wanted to be a mother to a girl. It is different. Not better or worse (so far) but different. And I'm glad I have that.

    I should also add that my sister has 2 boys and they're done. So, adopting a girl was the only way for my dad to have a granddaughter. DS specifically wanted a baby sister too, one who was brown like him.

    Adoption is not about faith for all people, and no one should force those beliefs on others.

    Choosing sex is no more unethical than choosing race, drug exposure, or what risk factors you're comfortable with.

  5. love this! havent stopped by your blog in awhile since google reader went away and I've been searching for a new love to keep track of everyone by...Congrats on the new baby! We totally agree with this...100 percent. Our agency doesnt let you specify gender anyways, but we wouldnt have. With our first adoption, we felt really led to be open to all races due to the huge deficit of families at our agency who were open to AA babies. And at one point we considered putting that were were ONLY open to african american children, and a friend urged us to just be open. I argued with "but we read all these books and stuff"...well, when we were matched with the birthmom of our blue eyed blond Irish son, I saw God's purpose in this relationship also...I almost closed the door on parenting this little guy who warms my heart every day??? We are now waiting to adopt again and didn't rule out any category on the forms, that I can recall, other than younger than our son who will be two in a few days. We will see what God does.

  6. We are adopting older kids (5-10) through foster care, and are open to a sibling group. Because, in our state, children over 5 of different sexes can't share a bedroom, and we only have 1 spare room, we can either accept 2 girls, or 2 boys. Given a whole host of reasons, including the fact that (where we live anyway) girls in this age range are more likely to be adopted than boys, we have specified that we prefer boys.

    Additionally, we've specified that we would prefer black or biracial boys, because they are overrepresented in the system, and my husband is biracial and we think we could be a good fit for one (or two) of the many minority boys waiting for homes in our state.

    It definitely felt creepy and weird to fill out all the forms though "I'll take this, not that, not this, ok this trait is fine." On the other hand we do have to be realistic about what we can handle as parents, so "has a terminal diagnosis" has to be a no for us right now, while "runs away once a month" we might be able to deal with.

  7. My husband and I have just started the domestic infant adoption process (we are actively waiting) and we are definitely open to either gender, but we are confused as to whether or not we should adopt outside of our race. We initially wanted to but after going through training and reading a bunch of research and opposing views on the subject, I am worried that if I raise a black child in our white home that it will do him/her harm and there will be many in the black community who look down on us for adopting a black child. But those kids are so overrepresented in the system and our hearts are open to any child. Personally, it seems to me if we ever want our society to move past racism, we need to stop being racist in matters like adoption. Isn't diversity--especially creating diverse families--good for everyone?


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